The rail connectivity will facilitate plying of freight and passenger trains from Bangladesh to Darjeeling via Shiliguri
Bangladesh and India have taken a move to revamp Chilahati-Haldibari rail connectivity which would open up the scope for trains to travel to Shiliguri and Darjeeling.
After five decades, the decision was taken as a part of government’s move to revive railway connectivity between the two countries, reports the BSS.
A fresh project has been taken up to reconstruct over 7km of new rail track in bordering Chilahati in Nilphamari district to connect Haldibari on Indian side with government financing, an additional director general of Bangladesh Railway (BR) told BSS.
“Once the connectivity is completed, it would not only open new horizon of bilateral trade with India but also with Nepal and Bhutan alongside tourism,” the railway official said.
He said the project involving Tk80 crore would be placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for final approval on Tuesday (today).
The additional director general added that the project would be implemented by 2021 if the Ecnec approves.
According to the report, the Indian government will reconstruct 3km rail track in its part to reinstate the British-era rail connectivity that was shut down following the India-Pakistan war in 1965.
The rail connectivity will facilitate plying of freight and passenger trains from Bangladesh to Darjeeling via Shiliguri.
Bangladesh and India have a total of seven railway connectivity points, of which three are now operational while four are shut down, the BSS report said.
Officials said the Chilahati-Haldibari route, of the four non-operational railway interconnectivity station, is practically very important for Bangladesh as this route will be more suitable for establishing rail connectivity with Bhutan through India.
With the new initiative of BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) connectivity, exports and imports through Mongla port are expected to see a rise as the rail link will help increase trade cooperation with north-eastern part of India.
Besides, trades with India and Nepal are also expected to boost up following completion of the rail connectivity and subsequent deals with India.
In an Inter-Governmental Railway Meeting (IGRM) in 2015, the governments of Bangladesh and India decided to reopen the Chilahati-Haldibari railway interchange.
Currently, three rail routes are operational between the two countries. The route from Darshana in Chuadanga to Gede in West Bengal is used for carrying both passengers and goods while the other two — Benapole-Petrapole and Rohanpur-Singhabad routes — for freight services.
Three routes from Feni to Belonia, Burimari to Changrabandha and Banglabandha to Siliguri remain non-operational, Bangladesh Railway officials said.